Friday, August 31, 2007

Leading a bible study in Israel, just after swimming in the Jordan
(not too muddy once you got in deeper). My mouth makes a funny shape when I am preaching! Down vanity!!!

A Pink Cadillac--Jesus Didn't Have One

In the gospel of Mark, chapter 6, Jesus comes home. For eight years I lived in Avon, South Dakota; the hometown of Senator and presidential candidate George McGovern. In fact, he was born only a few houses down from where I lived. When Avon’s centennial celebration rolled around, I was thrilled to see McGovern leading the parade; sitting in an open convertible he smiled and waved as we cheered him from the sidewalks. It was very much a happy homecoming. Jesus’ homecoming to Nazareth is happy too, but the crowd almost immediately begins to question, “ Where did this man get all this? What might works are wrought by his hands! Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not also his sisters here with us?” And we read shortly thereafter, “they took offense at him.” It looks as if Jesus’ triumphant homecoming has gone south. What should have been a cheering section has turned into a disgruntled mob.
Let’s try to see it from the perspective of the Nazarenes, by putting the situation in a modern day context. My hometown is Chicago. The great basketball player Michael Jordan is an abiding presence in that city. He and his friends and family still live in and frequent the area. But what if Michael Jordan’s mother was seen driving 1988 Toyota Camry, frequenting Penney’s and mowing her own grass? What would happen then? People would get suspicious. They would start to whisper, “Couldn’t MJ get his mom something better than a used Camry? Why is she still shopping at the Dollar? Hmmph...I guess MJ can’t be all that,” they would conclude. It’s a reasonable analysis, the same sort of analysis that is going on in Nazareth. “If Jesus is all that, a miracle worker and such, how come Mary his mom is still going to the well every morning with the other women? How can this man be so great since his brothers, James, Joses, Judas and Simon are still just working joes like us? Hmmph...” But the hometown crowd has forgotten one thing. Mary is not driving around in a pink cadillac because Jesus is the suffering servant. You see, God has decided, in his good pleasure and in his mercy to heal the world. How? He will heal death with death, he will heal our burdens by burdening his son, he will heal our wounds from sin by allowing his son to be wounded This is the REAL plan of salvation. Jesus can’t give his mom a pink caddy or the first century equivalent because he is the man of sorrows, meek and lowly. Jesus’ glory is not a gold Rolls Royce or bling for his friends and family but a wooden cross and the death of a criminal. The hometown crowd has the wrong idea and they are hostile toward Jesus, but Jesus’ glory is to take away our wrong ideas and to reconcile us to the Lord, while we are yet grumbling, hostile and hateful to the Lord of love, by whose stripes and in whose humility we are healed and lifted on high.